Welcome to the launch of the new Colorado Consumer Bankruptcy Association! The CCBA is the only trade organization in Colorado that is run by and for the exclusive benefit of consumer bankruptcy attorneys and their staff. You are cordially invited to join this free association.
The goals of the CCBA are to:
- Promote the interests of the Debtor’s Bar.
- Share and develop pleadings.
- Coordinate efforts in passing legislation in Colorado.
- Create a cohesive group with a single voice representing our consumer bankruptcy “family.”
What CCBA offers:
- FREE membership.
- Free CLEs – 3 per year.
- CARE program – Credit Abuse Resistance Education. A financial literacy program for students and young adults taught by bankruptcy attorneys focusing on budgeting, saving, and obtaining and using credit responsibly, coordinated by Loretta Burnett, Esq.
- Pleading library available for use and revision by members hosted on Google Docs.
- e-Newsletter keeping members up-to-date with recent local and national case law and CCBA events coordinated by Steve Berken, Esq.
- Legislative updates coordinated by Karen Cody-Hopkins, Esq.
- Mentor Program allowing young attorneys to have access to skilled and experienced counsel.
- Intramural sports – let's not forget to have some fun! CCBA-sponsored softball, kickball,and bowling teams, coordinated by Ted Taggart, Esq.
Why was CCBA formed?
Consumer bankruptcy attorneys have virtually no voice in the state of Colorado. The Colorado Bar Association, for many years, has nestled the Bankruptcy Sub-Section under the Business Law Section. To my mind, it has been an ill-fitting arrangement. The Business Law Section is about ....business. The Business Law Section provides services to counsel in matters involving antitrust, laws affecting banks and credit unions, matters involving franchises and mergers and acquisitions. In short, the business law section is all about Big Business.
Our field of practice is the polar-opposite of Big Business. We deal with alleviating debt problems, not creating them. The Business Law Sub-Sections of the CBA focus on how to create debt. We discharge it. The Bankruptcy Law Sub-Section was shoe-horned into the business section because we didn't fit anywhere else. Yes, all of the sub-sections deal with money, in a sense. But it’s like a car dealership that also sells bicycles because they both have wheels.
The Business Law Section of the CBA is chaired by senior counsel representing the largest foreclosure firm in Colorado. The chairperson of the Bankruptcy Sub-Section is the colleague of the senior counsel who works for the largest foreclosure firm in Colorado.
Since 2011, I have been working on convincing the Colorado Bar Association to form a stand-alone committee for bankruptcy counsel. In short, my idea has not been well-received. I will not bother you with the minutiae; however, I did determine that the business law section spends, each year, only $172 on expenses related to that subsection. It receives approximately $5000 per year in annual dues.
As you probably know, the Colorado Bar Association employs a lobbyist. I've come to learn that lobbyists are very expensive. The cost for promoting a single piece of legislation is $20,000-$25,000.
Simply stated, the CCBA does not have, and probably will never have, the financial resources to hire our own lobbyist. Still, with the guidance of Karen Cody-Hopkins, Esq., the chairperson of the legislative update team, our coordinated efforts with contacting key legislators, will assist in the introduction and passing of important legislation Colorado. For example, the exemption laws of Colorado have not been updated for more than half a decade. Many of the limits as to exemptions are stale, i.e., $5000 exemption for a vehicle. The average cost of a new car in the United States is now in excess of $30,000. These are the kinds of issues we want to raise and have acknowledged in Colorado.
Debtor’s Counsel: How we make a living.
Our ability to earn a chosen field of law is under attack. The largest bankruptcy firms in Colorado advertise low rates which are rarely the fees charged to their clients. This game of "bait and switch" has placed the honest attorney at a severe disadvantage. The CCBA will take a position (to be announced in the future) as to these unfair sales tactics, and work together as one voice to stand up against those firms that threaten our ability to earn fair fees for what we do.
Also, several divisions have issued less-than-scholarly opinions of late that have had the effect of assisting the credit industry with decisions for which that industry does not deserve, and which Congress did not intend. The CCBA will keep its members informed as to local decisions that adversely affect your clients, and with pleadings that will assist your representation of the debtor.
How to get started as a member of the CCBA.
Contact me if you have any questions or recommendations for membership offerings. We are a team, and want every member to have a say within our debtor’s counsel family.
We are very excited to finally create our own space and platform for debtor’s counsel in Colorado, and look forward to working with you on the issues that matter most in our practices.
Stephen E. Berken, Esq.